The biggest night in gaming is upon us – but who are the contenders?

Entertainment

The end of the year is always a time to reflect, and the gaming industry is no different.

The 10th annual Game Awards take place in Los Angeles on Thursday, 7 December, celebrating the best interactive entertainment released in 2023.

Sky News looks at the battles in seven of the hottest categories, and the rest are in full underneath.

Game of the year
Alan Wake 2
Baldur’s Gate 3
Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Resident Evil 4
Super Mario Bros Wonder

It’s a smorgasbord of blockbuster sequels battling it out for best game, and we think it’s between Alan Wake 2 and Baldur’s Gate 3.

Both were long in the making and took advantage of their lengthy development to upend fans’ expectations and achieve some of the highest review scores of the year.

The former is a love letter to Stephen King, Twin Peaks, and The Twilight Zone, delivering plot twists and jump scares aplenty while boasting some of 2023’s most creatively meta moments; and its fantasy rival has wowed with the seemingly endless permutations players can experience in a story driven by the choices they make.

Alan Wake II. Pic: Remedy
Image:
Alan Wake II is dripping with atmosphere. Pic: Remedy

Best narrative
Alan Wake 2
Baldur’s Gate 3
Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
Final Fantasy XVI
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Given their storytelling prowess is a key factor in how well they’ve been received, Alan Wake 2 and Baldur’s Gate 3 appear destined to slug it out for the narrative prize.

In both cases, it’s not just about how compelling the stories are, but how they’re delivered in ways that only this medium can. For example, Alan Wake’s Helsinki-based studio Remedy combines the game’s striking visuals with live action sequences, consistently challenging your perception of what’s really happening.

With Baldur’s Gate, from Belgian developer Larian, the sheer scope of its Dungeons & Dragons-style quest is astonishing – and the agency it gives means you’ll likely never meet anyone who had exactly the same experience.

Few games this year match Baldur's Gate 3 for sheer scope. Pic: Larian
Image:
Few games this year match Baldur’s Gate 3 for sheer scope. Pic: Larian

Best art direction
Alan Wake 2
Hi-Fi Rush
Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom
Lies Of P
Super Mario Bros Wonder

Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom will likely run Alan Wake and Baldur’s Gate closest for best game, and Nintendo has a fine chance of winning best art direction given how much visual splendour their teams are still squeezing out of the ageing Switch console.

Like its predecessor Breath Of The Wild, which won game of the year in 2017, this is a beautiful game punching well above its weight on the graphics front.

The dream-like scenery is wonderfully rendered, resembling a watercolour painting, and the scale of the world – now explorable from the sky – makes it all the more impressive.

Image:
Tears Of The Kingdom is another success for Nintendo’s fantasy series. Pic: Nintendo

Best audio design
Alan Wake 2
Dead Space
Hi-Fi Rush
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Resident Evil 4

Few genres thrive on good audio design as much as horror, and Alan Wake 2, Dead Space, and Resident Evil 4 deliver equally spine-chilling experiences that are best enjoyed in the dark with a good pair of headphones.

Any would be a worthy winner, though I’ll offer my best wishes to Dead Space given it’s terrified me like no other game this year. From your lonely footsteps and creaking doorways on the abandoned starship where it’s set, to the horrific blood-curling screams of the enemy monsters, it’s a frightening feast for the ears.

Dead Space. Pic: EA
Image:
Dead Space sounds disgusting – in a good way. Pic: EA

Best score and music
Alan Wake 2, composer Petri Alanko
Baldur’s Gate 3, composer Borislav Slavov
Final Fantasy XVI, composer Masayoshi Soken
Hi-Fi Rush, audio director Shuichi Kobori
Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom, Nintendo Sound Team

In a competitive and varied field, surprise hit Hi-Fi Rush stands out for not just having great music, but making the soundtrack fundamental to the gameplay experience.

Starring as a rock star turned action hero, each level tasks you with fighting enemies to the backdrop of both unique tracks and hits from bands like Nine Inch Nails and The Prodigy. Attacks sync up with the music in super satisfying fashion and better timing leads to higher scores, making for a uniquely addictive combat experience.

Now where’s my Taylor Swift-branded sequel…

Hi-Fi Rush is quite the audio-visual spectacle. Pic: Bethesda
Image:
Hi-Fi Rush is quite the audio-visual spectacle. Pic: Bethesda

Best performance
Ben Starr, Final Fantasy XVI
Cameron Monaghan, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor
Idris Elba, Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty
Melanie Liburd, Alan Wake 2
Neil Newbon, Baldur’s Gate 3
Yuri Lowenthal, Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

Star Wars star Cameron Monaghan told Sky News last year he expected more film and TV actors to join him in major gaming roles, and he’s been proved right – just look at Idris Elba joining Keanu Reeves in Cyberpunk.

But veteran video game actor Yuri Lowenthal (Marvel’s Spider-Man 2) deserves major kudos for bringing his own wonderful spin to one of pop culture’s most iconic characters, with the sequel to one of 2018’s best games injecting the story with a darker tone that demanded a more versatile and nuanced performance.

From Tom Holland to Shameik Moore, he’s got plenty of competition when it comes to Spider-Man actors – but he holds his own.

Spider-Man gets a darker suit to match his latest game's darker tone. Pic: Sony
Image:
Spider-Man gets a darker suit to match his latest game’s darker tone. Pic: Sony

Here are the rest of the game nominations:

Best game direction
Alan Wake 2
Baldur’s Gate 3
Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Super Mario Bros Wonder

Best adaptation
Castlevania: Nocturne
Gran Turismo
The Last Of Us
The Super Mario Bros Movie
Twisted Metal

Read more:
The science behind The Last Of Us’ real ‘zombie’ fungus

Pic: PlayStation Productions/Sony Pictures Television
Image:
The Last Of Us got a TV adaption on Sky Atlantic. Pic: PlayStation Productions/Sony Pictures Television

Innovation in accessibility
Diablo IV
Forza Motorsport
Hi-Fi Rush
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Mortal Kombat 1
Street Fighter 6

Games for impact
A Space For The Unbound
Chants Of Sennaar
Goodbye Volcano High
Terra Nil
Tchia
Venba

Best community support
Baldur’s Gate 3
Cyberpunk 2077
Destiny 2
Final Fantasy XIV
No Man’s Sky

Idris Elba in Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty. Pic: CD Projekt Red/YouTube
Image:
Idris Elba joined Cyberpunk 2077’s impressive cast this year. Pic: CD Projekt Red

Best independent game
Cocoon
Dave The Diver
Dredge
Sea Of Stars
Viewfinder

Best debut indie game
Cocoon
Dredge
Pizza Tower
Venba
Viewfinder

Best mobile game
Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis
Honkai: Star Rail
Hello Kitty Island Adventure
Monster Hunter Now
Terra Nil

Best VR/AR Game
Gran Turismo 7
Humanity
Horizon Call Of The Mountain
Resident Evil Village
Synapse

Resident Evil Village. Pic: Capcom
Image:
Resident Evil Village was a true scarefest in VR. Pic: Capcom

Best action game
Armored Core VI: Fires Of Rubicon
Dead Island 2
Ghostrunner 2
Hi-Fi Rush
Remnant 2

Best action/adventure game
Alan Wake 2
Legend Of Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2
Resident Evil 4
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Best RPG
Baldur’s Gate 3
Final Fantasy XVI
Lies of P
Sea of Stars
Starfield

Read more:
Why Starfield means so much to Xbox gamers

Starfield boats hundreds of planets to explore. Pic: Bethesda
Image:
Starfield was one of the year’s biggest games. Pic: Bethesda

Best fighting game
God of Rock
Mortal Kombat 1
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2
Pocket Bravery
Street Fighter 6

Best family game
Disney Illusion Island
Party Animals
Pikmin 4
Sonic Superstars
Super Mario Bros Wonder

The iconic plumber returns in Super Mario Bros Wonder. Pic: Nintendo
Image:
Super Mario Bros Wonder is up for five gongs. Pic: Nintendo

Best sim/strategy game
Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp
Cities: Skylines II
Company of Heroes 3
Fire Emblem Engage
Pikmin 4

Best sports/racing
EA Sports FC 24
F1 23
Forza Motorsport
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2: Turbocharged
The Crew Motorfest

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Call Of Duty’s lasting legacy as series turns 20
How British scandal changed course of landmark game

Chelsea star Sam Kerr in EA Sports FC 24. Pic: EA Sports
Image:
Chelsea star Sam Kerr in EA Sports FC 24. Pic: EA Sports

Best multiplayer
Baldur’s Gate 3
Diablo IV
Party Animals
Street Fighter 6
Super Mario Bros Wonder

Best ongoing game
Apex Legends
Cyberpunk 2077
Final Fantasy XIV
Fortnite
Genshin Impact

Most anticipated game
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth
Hades II
Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth
Star Wars Outlaws
Tekken 8

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